Tanzania: TCRA Directed to Act On Ads By Herbalists

As herbalists continue defying orders against airing promotional adverts in the mainstream media, the government has written to the police and communications industry regulator to take appropriate action, the 'Daily News' has been informed.

The Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 2002 prohibits practitioners in the field to advertise their products and facilities. Only adverts approved by the Traditional and Alternative Health Practices Council (TAHPC) are allowed.

However, some of the herbalists have been presenting to television and radio stations different programmes and promotions not approved by the council," the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, observed.

It is against this backdrop that the government has informed the police force and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to take appropriate action against the herbalists as well as respective television and radio stations.

A follow up by this newspaper has found out that even the recently deregistered traditional and alternative clinics have continued to air special programmes on television stations, particularly the Dar es Salaam-based Channel Ten and Star TV.

The Registrar of TAHPC, Dr Ruth Suza, told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview that the council was of aware of the disobedience by the herbalists. "The council is aware of the issue and working on it, you will be informed on the way forward," Dr Suza said in a brief text message.

Contacted for comment, the owner of Foreplan Clinic, which was recently deregistered by the council, Mr Juma Mwaka, neither responded to repeated phone calls nor text messages. The News Editor with Channel Ten, Ms Dina Chahali, said she was not the spokesperson of the TV station and referred this reporter to the Programme Manager, Mr Nick Ngonyani, who did not pick his phone.

The Spokesperson of the Police Force, Ms Advera Bulimba, said she was not in the office and hence was not updated whether the law enforcement organ had received the letter from the government.

Mid this week, Mr Mwaka, who refers to himself as Dr Mwaka, continued to promote his products through a special programme on Channel Ten, displaying phone numbers, which appear to show that he would be operating from Mozambique.

Sources privy to his business confided to this newspaper that after he had his operating licence as a herbalist revoked he has registered another company known as Foreplan Company Tanzania Limited, which has taken over from Foreplan Clinic.

"(Dr) Mwaka now describes his new company as one dealing with cosmetics and food nutrients; he is apparently evading the long arm of the law since the new company is not subjected to provisions of the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 2002," the source stated.

Last week, the TAHPC deregistered three traditional and alternative clinics and suspended provision of services of other three clinics due to violation of the regulations, policy and guidelines set by the council. The banned clinics include Foreplan Clinic, owned by Juma Mwaka, Fadhaget Sanitarium Clinic, owned by Fadhil Kabujanja and Mandai Herbal Clinic owned by Abdallah Mandai.

The Chairperson of the Council, Dr Edmund Kayombo, said then that the decision was reached after it was found out that some advertisements and promotion materials by the clinics through several radio and television stations did not have the council's approval.

Dr Kayombo noted that the herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners have continued to campaign and promote natural remedies and alternative treatments to the public, contrary to law and regulations. In the same vein, the council suspended three clinics from providing services for six months.

They include Msigwa Herbal Clinic, owned by Simon Rusigwa, and Lupimo Sanitarium Clinic, owned by John Lupimo.

According to the legislation, herbalists are supposed to ensure that before sending advertisements to the media; they must first be screened and approved by the council.

Moreover, information relating to natural cure and alternative treatment must be reviewed by the council before they reach the public.

Source: Tanzania Daily News